Box clever: vegetable tagine

Categories: Expert guidance

Healthy, good value desk lunches don’t have to be repetitive and uninspiring. Borough Market blogger Victoria Brown offers her tips for easy, delicious and internationally inspired packed lunches. This month: vegetable tagine

A good packed lunch takes a little planning, but it needn’t take a lot of time or effort. I think the best packed lunches are leftovers from the night before, so when I’m cooking dinner I purposely over-cater. If you choose dishes for supper that work well reheated or eaten cold, you can save time and money on your lunch the next day. Anything you cook will be so much more satisfying than the usual takeaway lunch fare.

This vegetable tagine is one of my favourite winter dishes. Vibrant, hearty and packed full of spices, it can’t fail to warm you up on a drizzly, grey day. Having a delicious lunch to look forward to can brighten even the dullest of Mondays.

Almost every ingredient in this dish is optional. The point is to use up whatever you have in your fridge and cupboard. The tomato, onion and garlic provide the base. Preserved lemon and ras el hanout, the Moroccan flavours. The rest is up to you.

Cheap and abundant
You can use any root vegetables, pulses and dried fruits. I opted for pumpkins and carrots because they are seasonal, and therefore cheap and abundant. I chose chickpeas, dried apricots and olives because I had them in my cupboard.

I like to add whole cumin and coriander seeds for the little bursts of flavour and texture that they bring to the dish, but they are by no means essential, so don’t bother unless you have them to hand.

Likewise, the cous cous with golden raisins and nuts is lovely on the side, but it’s not a necessity. Rice works too, if that is what you have to hand, or just a bit of bread to mop up the juices.

Substitute and subtract
In short, don’t let the long ingredients list put you off—you can substitute and subtract as you wish and it’s very easy to make. You just start off the sauce in a pot, add the veg and let the oven do the rest.

Oh, and if you don’t have a tagine, just use a large casserole dish. I did!

Read Victoria’s vegetable tagine recipe